The best scientific images of 2020
From the Australian bushfires in January to the demolition of the Arecibo Telescope in December, here's our selection of the most stunning photos from 2020, as chosen by our picture editor James Cutmore.
The pandemic has dominated the airwaves for the last nine months, and rightly so. But that hasn’t stopped fearless photographers from getting out and documenting the scientific world.
As the picture editor of BBC Science Focus, there’s no shortage of mind-blowing scientific imagery that arrives in my inbox, but here are a handful of my favourites that I hope might give you a slightly different perspective on the last 12 months.
For more incredible science photography check out:
- An Image preview of Sir David Attenborough's new series 'A Perfect Planet'
- The hole wide world: Earth's Broken Landscapes
January - Australian bushfires rage
Lake Tabourie, Australia – 4 January
Residents look on as flames burn through bush on January 04, 2020 in Lake Tabourie, Australia. A state of emergency was declared across New South Wakes at the time this picture was taken.
It's estimated that some 18m hectares of were burned during the 2019-20 bushfire season, destroying 2,400 homes and producing smog that authorities fear will endanger the lives of millions.
February - Storm Dennis floods the UK
Hereford, England – 17 February
A rainbow appears over flooded fields in the Wye Valley, near the hamlet of Wellesley, following Storm Dennis on February 17, 2020 in Hereford, England.
Storm Dennis is the second named storm to bring extreme weather in a week and follows in the aftermath of Storm Ciara.
March - Covid-19 sweeps across the world
Manila, Philippines - 11 March
A disinfection worker sprays antiseptic solution against COVID-19 aboard a firetruck along a street.
April - Bioluminescent waves shine in California
Hermosa Beach, CA, USA – 25 April
Bioluminescent waves glow off the coast of California. The phenomenon is associated with a red tide, or an algae bloom, filled with dinoflagellates which become bioluminescent when jostled by the moving water. During the daytime, due to the pigmentation of the dinoflagellates, the water can turn a deep red, brown, or orange, giving red tides their name
May - Social distancing in the USA
Dolores Park, San Francisco, USA – 22 May
An aerial view shows people gathered inside painted circles on the grass encouraging social distancing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
June - Annual solar eclipse in India
New Delhi, India - 21 June
The moon moves in front of the sun during an annular solar eclipse as seen through clouds from New Delhi.
July - High-tech Indoor farming glows in the Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands – 29 July
An employee works at the PlantLab production hall in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. - The company grows crops in high-tech cultivation areas, which no longer require daylight and can be grown in stacked layers
August - SpaceX Dragon capsule in the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf Of Mexico – 2 August
In this handout image provided by NASA, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule spacecraft, with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, is lifted onto the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship after landing in the Gulf of Mexico on August 2, 2020 off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
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The Demo-2 mission is the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program. The test flight serves as an end-to-end demonstration of SpaceX's crew transportation system.
Behnken and Hurley launched at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, 30 May, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit for the first time since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.
September - A troupe of dancing Chinese robots hit the floor
Qingdao, China – 22 September
Ubtech robots dance to the music during 2020 East Asia Marine Cooperation Platform Qingdao Forum on 22 September 2020 in Qingdao, Shandong Province of China.
October - Italian blast off
Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy –1 October
The Zefiro-9 motor seated on the test bench performing its final qualification hot firing. It burned for 120s using 10 t of solid propellant. The Zefiro-9 will power the third stage of ESA/AVIO Vega-C launch vehicle has been designed to launch small payloads into Earth orbit
November - Nasa's Artemis gets closer to launch
Florida, USA – 21 November
The aft segments of the Space Launch System solid rocket boosters for Nasa's Artemis I mission moves from high bay 4 inside the VAB for stacking on the mobile launcher inside high bay 3.
December - James Bond star begins to fade
Arecibo, Puerto Rico – 1 December
This aerial view shows the damage at the Arecibo Observatory after one of the main cables holding the receiver broke. The radio telescope in Puerto Rico, which once starred in a James Bond film, collapsed when its 900-ton receiver platform fell 450 feet (140 meters) and smashed onto the radio dish below.
James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs
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